Treaty Does Not Stop Illicit Mercury Trade in South America

The lure of gold: Peruvians search for gold and many use mercury for processing, and Peruvian law enforcement authorities crack down on illegal mining

Mercury is among the top 10 chemical hazards listed by the World Health Organization. The Minamata Convention on Mercury, a treaty adopted in 2013 and opened for signatures, aims to reduce global mercury pollution and protect global health. “The convention prohibits the opening of new mercury mines, requires existing mines to close within 15 years, and encourages nations to reduce or eliminate mercury use in artisanal gold mining,” explains David Gonzalez, a PhD student in environment and resources at Stanford University and a 2015-2016 Yale Fox International Fellow. Spain and the United States were once leading mercury exporters, until the European Union banned exports in 2010 and the United States followed suit. After miners developed alternatives for extracting precious metals and mercury prices plummeted, Mexico and Indonesia became top exporters. Peru stopped mercury imports, too, but miners in rural communities rely on emerging black markets. Mercury mining and pollution have shifted to regions with few controls, and Gonzalez concludes that reveals a challenge for enforcing the Minamata Convention. – YaleGlobal

Globalization and Technology Boost Central America’s Film Industry

The young film industry in Honduras, a country of 9 million people, struggled to produce a film each year only a decade ago. But the industry boomed in 2017 with more than a dozen films produced. And for the first time, a Honduran film – Morazán – was considered for an Academy Award, joining the long list for best foreign-language film. “Globalization is contributing to a new era of cinematic production in Central America due to new technologies and lower costs,” explains author J.H. Bográn. “The film industry in Central America has no direct ties with the likes of big studio production companies in Hollywood and remains the stuff of dreams for many with the most adventurous investing their own money to achieve those dreams.” A handful of industry leaders undertook the painstaking work of organizing a film selection committee to secure accreditation from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. International film festivals like Sundance and the Costa Rica Festival Internacional de Cine as well as multinational cultural organizations like Ibermedia based in Spain also encourage projects in Central America. More than 90 countries submitted entries for the Academy Award with films that reflect a diverse world and inspire beyond their borders. – YaleGlobal

Venezuela Is Not a Big Priority for Russia, China or Iran

Venezuela had strong ties with the United States until 1998, when Hugo Chávez was elected president. With the world’s largest proven oil reserves, the country of 32 million should be wealthy. But Chávez and Nicolás Maduro revised the constitution, concentrating presidential power in their hands, while mismanaging the economy and oil industry. More than 80 percent of Venezuelan households live in poverty, dealing with rampant inflation and shortages of basic goods. Carlo Jose Vicente Caro notes that economic challenges have influenced foreign relations: “The official line is that the government is strengthening strategic relations with partners like Moscow and Beijing as well as Tehran. But the Maduro administration has exaggerated the strength of those ties. The priority is not helping Venezuela but countering US hegemony in regional politics.” With Venezuela defaulting on some bonds, Russia and China have slowed lending. Venezuela is over-dependent on oil exports and still relies on the US oil market. Caro concludes, “Venezuela is but a pawn for legitimizing those countries’ policies on the world stage rather than advancing a real agenda of its own. – YaleGlobal

Brazil’s Babies

Josely taps on the wooden door and is welcomed into the simple concrete house perched on the rim of a ravine of one of the sprawling favelas in Salvador, Brazil.

She is a nurse and has come to see the baby.

Wearing a diaper and sucking a blue pacifier, the two- month-old boy with a shock of black hair is carried in by his avó, or grandmother, and laid upon the white sheet of his parents’ bed. His crib, covered in a fine mesh to repel mosquitoes and adorned with a colorful mobile, stands at the foot of the bed. A small lizard, no larger than a paper clip, noiselessly traverses the ceiling directly overhead.

Research in Nicaragua Inspires Two Scientific Papers and a Career Path for Recent YSPH Graduate

Before she even received her diploma, Cara Safon’s research was already having an impact. A study that she conducted while still an M.P.H. student at the Yale School of Public Health led to two published peer-reviewed articles on breastfeeding practices in León, Nicaragua. 

Safon entered the program knowing she wanted to pursue research on maternal-child health, and began seeking out research opportunities in the field. She connected with YSPH Professor Rafael Pérez-Escamilla, Ph.D., who currently leads the Becoming Breastfeeding Friendly (BBF) scaling up initiative, a program that helps guide countries in assessing their readiness to improve breastfeeding protection, promotion and support environments. Together, they devised a research proposal that would examine the connection between delivery mode —natural or Cesarean section—and subsequent breastfeeding outcomes.

Noël Valis, expert in Spanish literature, wins Victoria Urbano Award

Phot of professor Noël Valis

Noël Valis, professor of Spanish in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese, has won the Victoria Urbano Academic Achievement Award (Premio Victoria Urbano de Reconocimiento Académico), given by the International Association of Hispanic Women’s Literature and Culture (Asociación Internacional de Literatura y Cultura Femenina Hispánica), for her work in Hispanic women’s and gender studies.

Valis began her research in this field in the 1980s, at the time a fledgling area within Hispanic studies. She co-edited (with Carol Maier) what was to become an influential and widely cited book in Hispanism, “In the Feminine Mode: Essays on Hispanic Women Writers.” She has also rediscovered forgotten or neglected 19th-century Spanish women writers and promoted Hispanic women authors through editorial work, essays, and translation, such as Noni Benegas’s “Burning Cartography,” which won the Best Book Translation Prize from the New England Council of Latin American Studies.